MADELEINE McCann’s abductors may have daubed coded messages on the
outside walls of the family’s holiday apartment to indicate when she was
Police in Portugal’s Algarve recently discovered arrows or circles are
being used by criminals to signal a chance to break into homes.
A horizontal arrow means property is easy to get into during the
afternoon. Semi-circles underneath a line indicate a child is alone in
The signs, believed to originate with Brazilian crime gangs, have been
found on or near properties across the popular holiday region.
Madeleine McCann was three when she vanished in Praia da Luz four years
ago as parents Kate and Gerry dined nearby. Police suspect the apartment
may have been staked out for days.
And witnesses saw a man watching it in the week before Madeleine’s
disappearance in May 2007.
Dave Edgar, a former detective now investigating the case for the
McCanns, has said: “Someone just doesn’t go in, a passer-by, and pick up
a child and take it.
things are planned. They may even have been watching the
apartment for a week or more. Dave Edgar, a former detective
now investigating the case
“These things are planned. They may even have been watching the
apartment for a week or more.”
Police in Portugal hope publicising details of the codes may help
prevent crime in the region.
A police spokesman said: “The signs indicate to other burglars how easy
is to break into, as well as indicating when the house is empty or more
likely to be empty, if there are elderly people or children alone in the
house, among others.”
And he warned residents: “If you see any of these signs around your
house, you should remove them immediately and contact your local
Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, said anything the police
were doing to raise awareness of possible crimes in the area was
Sales from Kate McCann’s book Madeleine, released in May, are believed
to have now passed 200,000.
And Kate, 44, and Gerry, 43, from Rothley, Leicestershire, hope new
information on their daughter’s case will emerge.
A Metropolitan Police team of detectives is reviewing the evidence in
her case to see if any clues have been missed.